I am never too proud (or self inflated in my smartness) to take the good advice offered to me by those around me. In this case it is the wise examples of our pooch – Apple – who is currently 13-years old (or 91 in ‘dog years’).
I often tell my coaching clients to look into nature for the answers to some (and sometimes all) of the challenges they might be facing. I ask them, what can you learn from observing mother nature? How does she deal with a similar situation?
This time I decided to pay attention to what my pooch is showing me is the way to live a joyful, fulfilling and carefree life.
Our dog obviously behaved herself in a former life and therefore came into the world into a caring and loving family, so she got off to a good start.
Rock Solid Lesson 1: Soak it in
There are often times when I could not find Apple lounging around inside the house and after a quick search I would head to her other favourite spot. Especially in the morning.
I would find her gleefully sprawled out in the driveway in a big patch of sunlight. Her dark coat would be really warm and she would be totally blissed out.
She never stayed there for hours at a time, but just long enough each day to get her sunshine fix – which she intuitively knew was good for her. She reminded me of the benefit of spending some time every day in direct sunlight to absorb a healthy amount of vitamin D, to fortify our immune system and provide protective health all round.
So I am a fan of every day, standing in, or walking in the warmth, radiance and magic of direct sunlight, as part of my health and well-being rituals.
Rock Solid Lesson 2: Keep it simple
Apple is generally pretty chipper (aka: happy) if she gets to tick off the basics each day.
It is pretty simple:
- A good feed (we hand make fresh healthy dog food)
- A comfortable and dry place to sleep
- A daily walk or two
- Some regular love in the form of pats and affection
She reminds me that providing I am getting 2 or 3 meals a day, a chance to relax or play, a chance to sleep in a comfortable bed with a roof over my head, and some love and affection, life is pretty damn good.
I once saw at a Tony Robbins event a woman on stage who had confessed that she had consistent suicidal thoughts. Tony asked her what would make her happy? She then proceeded to go through a (very) long shopping list of things that needed to happen or be in her life in order for her to be happy. She was choosing to set herself up for potential failure. She was unlikely to ever be happy, with such a long list.
On the other hand if we get clear about what we ‘actually’ need in life to thrive, we could actually wake up every day single happy because we have shelter, food, air to breathe, play time and friends/family in our lives.
Life is great. We just forget sometimes because our shopping list of what we think we need to make us happy gets ridiculously long.
Rock Solid Lesson 3: Where is your mind
Apple does not seem to give too much attention to the future, and I am pretty sure she does not remember what she ate for her meal yesterday. Or whether I yelled at her for scratching the stuffing out of her pillow through the night. Nup. Cannot remember.
She is fully present in this moment.
I have to admit. This one is a challenge for me, and something I have been working on for a long time now. How to be fully present in the moment.
I love to create things. I love to imagine things. I love to think of possibilities. I love to activate and engage my mind to figure things out, or to imagine how something could be improved. And a lot of that mental busyness, keeps me out of a full appreciation and engagement with the eternal present moment.
It is okay to spend time in our mind dreaming our future desires into reality, but not at the expense of the present moment. And in actuality, there will be a time when the future you dreamed up, will become the ‘present’. Will you be present in the future you dreamed up to fully appreciate it?
So…feel free to join me on this journey of being more fully present in this glorious moment. See, feel, smell and sense the beauty of mother nature around you. Truly feel that sunshine on your skin. Breath deeply and fully that beautiful and bountiful air that earth provides us. Stay completely enraptured and fully engage with the conversation you are having.
Spend a some of your time dreaming, but most of your time firmly planted here and now.
Rock Solid Lesson 4: A lesson in love
This is why so many of us loving having a dog.
There is nothing quite like taking off from home for about 27 minutes, and then returning to find your dog SO ecstatic to see you they are just gushing with excitement, love, appreciation and can’t get enough of you.
Imagine if you expressed that level of enthusiasm (with less licking, howling and jumping) when you meet your friends, family and loved ones. You just wanted to express to them just how much you love and appreciate them.
How would that make them feel (and you too, compliments of mirror neurons)?
Maybe we could all be a little bit more (or a lot more) appreciative of our partners, our family, our relatives, our friends, our work colleagues, and all the other people that are part of the story of our lives.
I don’t know for sure, but I am guessing if we spread more unconditional love in multiple directions, it would make the world a happier and healthier place for us all.
Rock Solid Lesson 5: Get on with life
Dogs aren’t very good at moping around and feeling sorry for themselves. Though I do admit, there is a small amount of moping if Apple does not get enough pats (and that our new dog Gundi seems to be getting more attention). But in general there is not much moping going on.
Apple is old. She is getting a bit deaf. Her vision is pretty crappers. And she does tend to run into the occasional door, or be unable to notice me if I stand very still and in a corner.
But when I take her for a walk in the morning, there is no moaning about her bad eye sight, or poor hearing, or the other ailments of getting old. She just does the best she can, with a spring in her step and a dog-like smile on her face (which does look pretty funny these days as she lost her front right bottom tooth and now has her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth looking like a loonie ;-)).
It is a great reminder for me to just keep doing the best we can as we get older. Don’t lament the things we could have physically done 3 decades ago, or how quick our recovery was then. Enough of the moaning. Time for me to just get on with life and do the best I can.
My Final Words
If you don’t have a pet, please go and get yourself one now. 😉
And I highly recommend getting a rescued pet from the local pet shelter, or pound or the equivalent.
Now don’t tell Apple I mentioned this, but our new rescued dog – Gundi – is such a joy to have in our family. He is cheeky, smart, playful, stubborn, cuddly and so joyful to spend time with (though messing with my morning routine a little by demanding I take him for a walk NOW!!!!!).
Have a fabulous day, and if you don’t have a pet, next time you go for a walk, stop and pat someone else’s dog (after asking politely of course) and experience the love and connection.
Have a super fabulous day and take care.
PS: And again if you want to join myself and a bunch of other cool international types for 6-months of coaching, check out this link now, as we will be starting very soon.